Not surprisingly, I am just lousy at sewing. I am too impatient for such tiny detailed work. Even threading a needle irritates me to the point where I want to kick a puppy. My lack of patience is very evident in my sewing, on the rare times I have been forced to sew a button or gawd forbid, hem something or mend a sock. My sewing looks like medical stitches or just a pile of thread vomit. I haven't sewed anything in a really long time; I just give it to my mom to sew or I throw it the eff out. In a couple of cases I have resorted to taping a hole shut in a shirt. Pathetic. I had two bad sewing experiences in my youth and maybe that is why I detest sewing so much.

My mom likes doing all this domestic crap. She actually LOVES to iron and sew and cook and clean and all that. I never understood it. I would look at her and go, "wow, why are you so happy to be ironing a damn shirt of Dad's?" She would iron all our bedsheets too. Just wow. Anyway, she had a Singer sewing machine on her desk in the office. When I was about four, I became really fascinated by it, how fast the needle went up and down, how magical it seemed to be that she could feed something in there and BUP BUP BUP BUP BUP BUP, it would be sewn together. She warned me all the time not to touch it. Well, we know what happens with warnings. She was off in the kitchen, kitchening, and I was in the office, reading a book snuggled in the windowseat. I looked at the sewing machine, set my book down, walked over and sat in her big desk chair in front of it. My feet couldn't touch the sewing pedal on the floor. There was a piece of bright red fabric with bright red thread in the machine, and I remember seeing the shiny silver needle against it. Somehow, my fingers made their way to the shiny needle and my foot to the pedal.



I let out what my mother said was a blood-curdling cry. The needle had gone into the top of the nail of my left hand index finger, pretty far down, too. I remember pain pain pain and being frightened and also scared that I was going to now get in trouble for touching the machine. My mom came running, of course, saw me crying and freaking, still attached to the machine by the needle. She released the needle from the machine, and I remember crying even harder seeing the damn thing sticking out of my finger. Eventually, she pulled it out, I lived, but distrusted sewing machines forever.

Fast forward ten years or so to 8th Grade. Shop and Home Ec are required in Junior High. I had already passed Shop, even though I put the roof on the bottom of the damn birdhouse I had to make. The cooking part of Home Ec was done, and went OK despite an incident of strawberry throwing, but next was sewing. ON MACHINES. To make it infinitely worse, oh yes listen to THIS, we had to sew something to wear to an ALL-SCHOOL FASHION SHOW. Holy shit, NO. OH NO NO NO.

The bird-faced evil Home Ec teacher quickly surmised that I had a "poor attitude" and suggested I sew the easiest project she had, a powder blue t-shirt. I very begrudgingly started to work on it, and it was obvious that I was lame beyond lame. As the semester passed, I found many reasons not to come to Home Ec class to work on the t-shirt: as editor of the school newspaper, there was SO (sew) much to do yes yes; sick (cough cough); sunny day (byeeeeee); extra band practice; cute boy in study hall alert. ANYTHING. Well, Home Ec Bitch decided enough was enough. One day, she came up to my math class and announced that she was pulling me out to finish the shirt. This was unheard of, to pull someone to Home Ec from an academic class. But she got her way, plunked me in the empty white Home Ec room, just me, a sewing machine, and that stupid t-shirt. She warned me not to leave until it was done. Furious, I started to sew on the demented garment. When it seemed like it was appropriately patched with thread, I took it out from the machine and looked it over. All the hems were pulled and uneven, the scoop neck was saggy, and one arm was significantly longer than the other. There was no way in HELL I was going to wear that thing in some fashion show in front of everyone, and I wasn't about to try to redo it all either. I furtively glanced around to see that no one was coming, and took Powder Blue Frankenshirt into the large Home Ec storage closet, mashed it into a tight little ball, and shoved it deep into the far corner, and covered it with boxes. There. Problem solved. There was no time to make me do anything else, the show was the next day. WIN.

When it came time to get dressed for said show, I made all desperate and worried to Home Ec Bitch, telling her I searched EVERYWHERE and could not find my shirt and that someone must've STOLEN IT. Livid, she went with me to the room, leaving the stage area where the show was almost ready to go on, girls and guys dressed in their various Home Ec finery. We tore the room apart, me cleverly being the one to "look" in the closet. No shirt, AWWWW. She said nothing further, and I sat in the audience, pleased as could be.

She flunked me. It was the only F grade I ever got. AND SO WORTH IT! HAH!


I am not one.

I could have been, had my life not been taken over by rock n' roll, pop culture, Spaghetti-O's, and hour upon hour upon hour of "The Beverly Hillbillies." I could have dug deep into the recesses of my brain, and thought much more about Things and Why Things Are They Way They Are And Such and become a true Bulge Brain. But instead I went for the immediate, the flashy, and definitely unsubtle. I did read many classic books, read a newspaper everyday, watched the tv news every night, spent many hours thinking about the workings of the brain, and the chlorophyll in grass, and what went into the genetic mashup of the dachshund. But I am simply not serious enough to be an intellectual. I can ponder and wonder and poke and prod, but then something in my excavations will seem absurd or pointless or hilarious, and I will abandon them forthwith to get some gum or something. Some of this is laziness, but some of it is efficiency.

I have produced papers of intellectual worth, but they weren't worth anything to me, just to the professors that liked that I was able to vomit back their blather. Intellectuals seem to want to go endlessly over their subjects at hand, whether it is literature, music, poli sci, economics, religion blahdeeblah, but nothing ever really seems to come of it other than precious opinions. Is that harsh? Oh, who cares. So much of what passes for intellect is really just the ability to be more convincing in your opinion, as long as you don't actually hit someone in the face because that doesn't count. I like when there is a point to discussion, other than lip-flappery. I like it even more when someone actually does something worthwhile, rather than talk about someone else who has done something worthwhile. There are flappers, and there are doers.

My favorite kind of intellectual conversation is one where the topics keep veering off into unlikely tangents that keep you on your mental tippy-toes. It's easy to spew on topics you are comfortable with, another thing altogether to stay in the ballgame when you are really farm team level. It's fun. It's too easy just to stay in your comfort zone, and I think you end up losing respect for yourself after you've heard yourself deliver the same solid but tired rants a thousand times over. If I think about it, the best things that ever happened to me came out of situations where I was at first deeply uncomfortable, afraid, intimidated, worried, or self-conscious. That is where I find value and growth, not so much in making a checklist of what correct books, movies, political stances, educational experiences, or job choices other people think are right for me to take on. I am delighted to listen to flappery a good deal of the time, if it is given from a passionate and knowledgeable perspective. But I will only take on the things that really resonate with me. Those things I can describe no better than that they are things that feel at home in my brain and my heart, like they always had a place set up there, even if they may at first seem not that way at all. There is the immediate, and there is the considered.

Anyway, my point is that I am really just a goofball. Thank you.


There are some things you see that you never forget. Oh, you may want to, you very well may, but you just never do. They can play over and over in your mind in a loop, clear as when you first vaulted them into several complimentary and interlaced areas of your cortex. This particular event for me I liken to some kind of post-traumatic stress imprint, and I struggle still to comprehend it, but it indeed did happen.

I was around 16 years old, very morosely attending high school in Wisconsin. It was a cloudy, windy, and chilly fall day, one of those that come just way too early and remind you that you will be in Dairy State Antarctica in a month or so. The ground was already dry and dead, the leaves off the trees. I had a few minutes break in-between classes, so I left the fluorescent-light misery of the school halls and went outside to the campus "porch." This is what everyone called it, where all the kids who smoked went outside to light up. Yes, this was condoned by the school, officially. Ha ha, wow, huh? Anyway, all they required was that you kept to the porch and didn't throw the butts on the ground. I was three years away from quitting, never was a big smoker, but smoking was better than being inside school not to mention being a social plus, so I pulled out my pack of Marlboro Greens and my Bic lighter out of my black ski jacket and sucked some smoke in. Wasn't anyone I knew out on the porch that morning, which was kind of strange, so I just stood off by myself near the brick wall of the building, absently watching the other groups of 5 or 6 kids laugh and smoke and talk quickly in the 10 minutes we had before the bell rang.

In front of me and slightly to my right was a group of girls that I didn't really know, standing in a circle. It was the start of cold and flu season, and one otherwise nondescript girl with long stringy sandy brown hair kept coughing and wiping at her nose. I stared a bit at her, thinking how much I did not want to get sick, but knowing there was never any escape. Suddenly, she turned fully away from her group directly towards me, bent halfway over, and let out a tremendous sneeze. At that very instant, the propulsion of the sneeze produced out of one of her nostrils the sight that haunts me to this day. A huge slime-green string of snot, as thick as a jump rope, shot out of her nose a good 2 or 3 feet in length, reaching nearly to the ground as she bent over. In that same fraction of a second, as she sucked air back in, the entire snot rope went completely back into her nose, like a whip that had been uncoiled and retracted by a dungeon master.

I was stunned. She was stunned. I glanced around quickly. No one else was by me or behind me. Only I saw. She stood upright again and looked at me with pale apologetic horror on her face. All I could muster was the weakest, lamest, tiniest smile, trying to apologize as well for witnessing the bountiful booger. She turned back to her group while I stood with my burning cigarette in my fingers, too consumed by what I had just witnessed to finish smoking. The bell rang, shaking me out of my mucus-reverie. I quickly stubbed the smoke out in the big silver ashcan on the porch and followed everyone in the glass double doors into school again.

I never saw her again, never figured out who she was. But her massive snot snake lives with me, in my brain, like some kind of waste product pet. That was really something, I tell ya. Damn.


Another rip-off cloudy cool summer morning here. It had better get sunny later or I’m gonna sue one of my neighbors just for fun. The house across the street, the cool log cabin from the ‘30s, is finished being destroyed so a new home like mine that will sit forever overpriced and never sell can be put in its place. I really liked that house. Yes, I know it is my fault it got knocked down. I get it.

Before I start my morning of scanning blurry and damaged photographs into my computer so I can ruin my eyes a little more trying to fix them, I do a Starbucks run, to the one downtown. Of course, this is suburbia, so downtown is really rather tame. I am surprised that traffic is so light this morning. Maybe this is Monday Sleep-In Day and I was uninformed. Ah well. So I park, frown grimly at a car going the wrong way in the parking lot and go inside. It is very busy, for the usual reason – some poor dude getting trained as a barista is slowing it down. I would make a shitty barista because I would feel such pressure to get the drinks out fast that I would throw beans all over and spill 2% milk on the floor and just end up drinking all the drinks myself in a perfectionist panic. I can’t even really make change without feeling like the Wrong Change Police are looking. “Here’s five, ten, fifteen and three cents, ma’am.” “WRONG! YOU SHORTED HER A CENT! FOUR FOUR FOUR!” Then the Wrong Change Police would hit me in the head with a bag of nickels and take me to a bank vault to count pennies while listening to a loop of “Money” by Pink Floyd.

Everyone is cheerily chattering away at the Starbucks, except for a couple of guys who are clearly a little irritated that their drinks are slow in coming up. Interestingly enough, they both ordered short extra-hot lattes. I guess they just want to toss that baby down, like a burning sake or something. Does the trick. There is a pair of elderly sisters with almost identical short squat rectangle bodies. I have déjà vu thinking I wrote about them already at Atrium Starbucks, but maybe that was a different pair of elderly sisters; I am too lazy to go and read back. It’s nice anyway, that sisters go to get coffee together. I am pleased to note that the brush-cut muscle-y lesbian woman running one of the cash registers is proudly growing a new moustache. It is still dubious, but I imagine with time and more hormone therapy it will be looking all Snidely Whiplash in no time.

In front of me is a really truly gorgeous young woman, holding a toddler girl on her tiny hip. She is bird-thin but still with a shape, with expensive jeans that show the slight skeletal bow to her legs. Her long layered dark brown hair is perfectly cut, colored, and styled. Her face is pretty much perfect: gorgeous white smile, pretty green eyes, smooth tan skin, just movie-star pretty, but prettier than that. I think most movie stars are actually sort of odd looking. They all seem to have large heads. Anyway, a slightly older boy comes up to her from a table and starts stamping his feet and whining at her. I looked at her, thinking, oh come ON, she’s got two little kids? Damn. Some people just sail through, huh. But when I hear her say to the boy that he has to wear shorts today because that is what his mommy put out for him to wear, then I get it. Nanny. That’s a dangerous nanny to have there, I say! Later as I walk to my car with my Venti Latte and ham breakfast sandwich, I see her in the parking lot, hugging and kissing a man standing next to a huge shiny black Navigator. Such is suburban life.

Now I am home, watching the orange digger across the street swing back and forth, dumping loads of dirt into a dump truck. The sun came out, so no frivolous lawsuit today. The coffee should perk me up soon. The scanner is warming up, too.


GUEST BLOG by Lisas, New York State:

This grandma drives into...and I MEAN INTO...the side of a restaurant one day, walks in like she hasn't moved 3 inches of the foundation, and says, "I'm not very hungry, can I just have a piece of pie?" The waitress laughed at her and says, "You're not hungry because you left here 20 minutes ago from eating a huge lunch!" and the grandma said "OK, can I still have my pie?"

When she went outside to get in her car to drive away, it wouldn't start so she goes back inside to ask my father, who was sitting at the counter, to start it. He walked out, put it in park and turned the key for her.

She never got charged for hitting the building.


Might as well be the Enquirer these days.


I am pretty certain that one morning soon I am going to wake up and the entire house will be filled, floor to ceiling, with nothing but huge black tufts of dog hair. They will fill my eyes and ears and nose, and I will believe that I have died. I will only know that I have not when a final tuft releases from her body, and the house collapses.


Anyone who knows me knows that I have Driving Issues. Which is odd, because I really like cars, and I am a decent driver. I just do not want to drive them on any highway, ever, and I am also not a big fan of merging. I need to know exactly, and I mean exactly, where I am going when driving, and furthermore need to do a test run half the time with another driver so I have a visual reference. I did not even get a license until I was 34, and spent at least a year quivering in fear anticipating driving even a few go-the-back-way blocks. But I have made some progress over the years, I really have. If given the out, I won't drive, but I do my thing most days and get the errands done, anyway.

But today, I had a revelation.

I was driving about 40-45mph down a long, slightly-curvy tree-lined road, which was not too busy. It was a perfect day, sunny with bright blue skies, about 80 degrees. I had the windows down and the sunroof open and the radio blasting away. My hair was blowing all around, not unpleasantly, and the sun felt wonderful on my face, and on my arms, one resting on the window, one on the wheel. It occurred to me that I was happy! While driving! A car! I was really digging the whole scene, man, and that was something I think I have never thought while driving. It was just fun, and I wish that the highway interchange had not come up so quickly to clog my zippy little groove with cars filled with suckers getting on the 405 North. I could've just kept going, singing along, enjoying the feel of the car hugging the curves in the road probably at a slightly too-fast rate of speed, all by myself in the car.

Instead, I had to make a determination on how not to get decimated by a semi as I turned left across traffic with no light. My judgment and timing were sound, I and my car lived, to maybe feel happy driving another day.

This was the song I was singing, while sometimes getting my windy hair off my lip glossed lips -- Spacehog's "In The Meantime":


Ah, what is better than a smile? Nothing, really. A smile can change everything. When do new parents fall in love with their babies? Not really right away. They feel protective, curious, fascinated, caring, but they fall in love a few weeks later when the baby offers up a first toothless, goofy grin. Such power, the smile has. It makes people soften, relax, open up, feel accepted. Smiles make more smiles. Not that everyone should be going around smiling all the time. I hate that crap, it’s creepy. Makes you look like a cult member or something.

It’s really not that hard to tell a fake or forced smile from a real one, if you pay attention. It’s all in the eyes. The skin stays flatter, doesn’t crinkle around the eyes, like it was Botoxed. The look in the eyes is the giveaway. There is no sparkle, no warmth, no depth. Go look at a picture of someone smiling and cover it from the nose down with your hand. If you cannot tell from the eyes that the person is smiling, it’s not a real smile. This is a good thing to know. Some people misuse their smiles, which offends me, because I like smiles so much. Some people don’t have much to smile about, and that is the saddest smile to see. Or maybe it is the best, because they keep trying. Both, I guess.

You cannot be in love with someone unless you love his or her smile. The eyes are the window to the soul, and the smile is the Firewire to the heart. The combo is the knock-out punch.

You should probably smile more. It’s free, and it makes you and everyone else feel a little better. You might even make someone’s day, in a small or a big way. Pick up some Whitestrips while you’re out too, eh.


Not a fan. Sorry. I am just not a fan of school. I have had a decent amount of years in school and I can confidently say that most of that time would've been better spent chewing gum and staring at cloud patterns. I may in fact do that after I am done writing this, if I can find where the gum is.

I will preface by saying that I am in favor of education, or at least what the educational process should be about. There is tremendous value in opening the mind to all kinds of ideas, facts, perceptions, and opinions that come from all kinds of people. I just don't think that in general the system works. I swear people come out of school more clueless than when they went in, or at least wondering what the hell that was all about. If I get down to what I think should be the outcome of an education, it is this: you should know the basic facts of the world, how it works chemically, financially, historically, socially, etc. You should know how you work, biologically and psychologically. You should know how to work with numbers and words well enough to balance a checkbook, understand mortgage rates, write a resume, read a classic book. But most importantly, school should help you figure out what you are good at, what your passions are, and encourage you and support you in finding a way to combine those to make a living.

I think back to the first day of 1st grade. When dear old Miss Lurvey, who was in her 70s and seemed just incredibly ancient to me, wrote on the blackboard a big letter "A," I thought, "oh no." Oh no no no. She is going to start teaching reading from the letter A. I can remember feeling stunned and so disappointed. Of course, I didn't have any view of what she had to accomplish in a class of 25 kids -- I only thought about that I could already read very well and that this was a nightmare. I didn't think about how most of the kids could not read, and it was her job to teach them. But it was also her job to do something with me, and that didn't happen. I spent almost all my elementary school years in the library, waiting to be called back into the classroom. The only option the school gave my parents was to move me up a few grades, and they declined to do so. My education was a triple fail: the school, my parents, and me. I could have made more of it, asked more of it, and didn't. I was prepared for nothing except to expect less of the world and myself.

Teaching is an incredibly difficult job. Your day never really ends -- you are always planning and thinking and grading and worrying, well past school hours until when you crawl into bed, and often after. You have to try to please the state, the school, the parents, yourself, the students, and we all know you can never please everyone. There isn't one way of teaching that is right for everyone, but educational boxes abound. Really excellent teachers are rare, the natural ones. They just have an intuitive feel of how to present information and how to get it across to each individual. They are undaunted by bad attitudes, learning disabilities, class clowns, ESL students, looming standards tests, and pushy parents. They love what they do, and are energized rather than burnt out by the challenges. There are many very good teachers, that sometimes cannot keep going past the difficulties. There are many mediocre teachers, and there are far too many people that have no business teaching at all. There are many people who would love to teach and would be good at it, but can't live with the low-pay/low-prestige/low-rewards perception. How did we get here? When my mother taught school, teachers were valued and respected members of the community. Do a check right now: when you meet someone for the first time and they tell you they are a teacher, what do you really think?

I know there are some people who thought their educations were pretty good, all in all. I know some feel more like me. A great education is an invaluable, priceless gift. If I could think of a way to deliver that to more people, I'd be pretty damn happy. But first we have to make people believe in education again and make the benefits real. Daunting task.


Ah, wonderful fate! Here I sit, at The Other Other Coffee Place, after having a Fail Coffee at home using Dunkin' Donuts beans, and who is standing in line in front of me? Mr. Hollywood!! YAY! It took me only a second to recognize him, even from behind. He was chatting up the very pretty young barista: "I think I'm lookin' pretty damn good for 83 years old...most of the old guys I see are all 'eh eh eh eh' but I think I'm still pretty with it, huh?" The girl, of course, gushingly agrees, and I do too. I expect to see Mrs. Hollywood with him, so I glance to my left and there she is, lounging in a somewhat-slatternly way, talking into a pink Blackberry. Oh, YAY!!! I am so happy. I get to find out more!

They are both impeccably dressed again, but not as fancy as before. Mr.Hollywood has on snappy tweed cuffed pants and a striped button-down shirt, shiny bronze loafters, lots of gold rings, and a gold watch this time, and his hair is flatter today and looks unwashed. He has his cane again but doesn't really seem to rely on it much. Mrs. Hollywood, frowning importantly on her cell phone call, has on a tight light pink sweater, and black knit pants, and crosses and uncrosses her legs languidly as she speaks. I see more of her face today, since she is not wearing her sunglasses inside, surprisingly enough. She kind of looks like a cat, and you could see that back in the day she was just cute as can be. She has no doubt had a couple of face lifts and is seriously botoxed, which may account for the cat look, but she's had better work done than most I've seen. I have determined that there is a strong possibility that her long gray super-styled hair is a wig.

I'm trying not to be too obvious in looking at them, but I am probably failing. Something in Mrs. Hollywood's gaze tells me she is used to being looked at. Hmm.

AH HA! Another clue! The tall hunky guy barista that works here sometimes goes up and speaks to them while he is on the phone. Grandkid? That's how the Hollywoods found this place! Now they are both taking calls, Hollywood-style. I can't hear what they are saying over the coffee grinder and the music. It's probably better that I imagine.

I like the Hollywoods. They class up the joint, yo.


Random things I like about Ray Davies:
  • I like that he likes to work, even though he doesn't have to.
  • I like that when he talks to you, he looks you right in the eye.
  • I like that he is bright, but doesn't make a big deal about it.
  • I like that he is often gracious, even when it is not expected.
  • I like that he has taken care of himself enough over the years to still do an amazing split leap onstage. And still totally rocks the black drainpipe jeans.
  • I like that he thinks a sense of humor and music go together.
  • I like that he observes at all times. There isn't a moment when he is not processing.
  • I like that his voice is as good or better than it ever was.
  • I like that he is feisty.
  • I like his smile very much.
  • I like that he is an oddball.
  • I like watching other people react to being near him. Even people who do not know who he is. Ray Davies helped to make me an observer.
  • I like Ray Davies, despite his many weirdnesses and flaws.
Ray is like a charismatic Uncle that I don't see very often, that no one will never know very well, but always leaves the family with lots of good stories to tell after he goes.

OK, I will get back to work now.


It is completely impossible to attend a rock concert without experiencing some level of Concert Attending Assholery. I don’t know why or how I keep getting surprised by this. I have long long years of dealing with all manners of rock n’ roll rectums -- boors, clods, idiots, dipshits, you name it -- yet I keep thinking that it will stop. Of course, it never does. It does not seem to matter a whole lot who is playing, seats vs. no seats, a bar or a theatre. Assholes everywhere. And I am no shitty uptight concert-goer , either! I am very appropriately enthusiastic, but I always keep in mind there are OTHER PEOPLE THERE. OMG, being considerate at a rock show? WHUUUTTT?

Here were the latest sphincters, from last night’s wonderful Ray Davies show in Seattle:

The Giant Completely Wasted Dude: Oh, you know him. You do. He is at every show, everywhere. For all I know, he is at a chamber music show as well. Now you tell me: what would inspire someone attending a mainly acoustic concert given by a British man in his 60s to get so drunk out of his skull that he could barely stand? WOOO! WOOOO! WOOO! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! That is the call of the Giant Completely Wasted Dude. Oh, and he knows what to do, he does. He knows that he can stand right in front of everyone, even if he doesn’t have a seat, because he is huge and lumbering and moves in frightening lurching ways. Dude was so gone that he pressed his ear against the PA stack for most of the show, while he played heavy and detailed air guitar, and fisted the air and screamed during the quietest moments. Ray was speaking to the crowd about a recent serious injury when Dude decided his overwhelming love for Ray was so important to express that he tried to interrupt by lunging at the stage, then farted incomprehensibly out of his piehole, “YEAH! MAN! LOLA! EL-OH-EL-AY! HLKDHFLKHLADKSFH! WOOOO! RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY! WOOOOOOOOO!”Fortunately, Ray is a total pro and helped us all out. He looked at the guy and said, “Oh, so you’re the guy who shot me?” The audience broke out in laughter and Dude slightly melted and retreated back to his eardrum-shattering PA position. Thanks, Ray.

The Smelly Hippie: Sat down cross-legged in front of me about mid-show with a book in his hand, and his filthy fingers keeping place on a page. What, was he going to stand up and start reading to Ray? It took about three seconds before his stale stench assaulted me. It was the smell of no bath, no laundry, no deodorant, and with every breath I took it felt like razors in my throat and a homeless shelter in my nose. SOAP AND WATER ARE CHEAP, SIR! USE THEM! He left after about 30 minutes. My throat still hurts.

The Old Elaine Dancer: Again, I am all for enthusiasm. Nobody loves music more than yours truly, and I understand sometimes you just have to get up and move. However, when you are in the front row, you are well into your 50s and should not be smoking so much pot anyway, please think about how the audience feels when you stand up and start jerking around like you have epilepsy, especially when no one else is standing in the entire theatre. If you were 20 and totally hot, you would get somewhat of a pass, however.

The Clueless Completely Wasted Superfan: Beware the single-seat dude who carries a full backpack into a show filled with cds and records and pens. This is a bad, bad combo. He had the seat right in front of me. Of course he did. He sat quietly, if wavering, in his seat for awhile then started obsessively fussing with the contents of the backpack. He finally settled on bringing out a cd and a Sharpie, then started getting excited. He did the fist-pump and the chicken neck thing where the neck is extended out and back as if he were a rooster strutting, and the Random Yell, similar to Dude above. All of a sudden, Superfan decides it is time to Stand. He barely makes it to his feet, clutching onto his cd. No one else is standing. He keeps standing for a REALLY LONG TIME, completely blocking me. Was he thinking Ray was going to stop in the middle of the show to sign the cd? Something had to be done. I know well from past dealings that there is no telling a very high person to do anything rational. My revenge would have to take another form. I was going to pull his chair back so that when he did sit down he would completely fall, but then I thought no, he would also fall on me. I looked over at my Teen. He is Evil, like me, and we communicated with no words. He took a mighty slug from his water bottle, and in one perfectly-aimed arc, spit it out onto Superfan’s seat, not a drop to the floor. When Superfan finally sits, we laugh together in mightily-restrained shoulder-shaking delight. A short while later, he leaves, never returns, and a teen boy takes his seat, thrilled at his good luck.

EDIT: Here we go, Giant Completely Wasted Dude included!


What an intrusive day. I had my annual checkup this morning, so was prodded, poked, scraped, smashed, and questioned. I am such a good patient. I do not flinch, leap, pass out, or whine. I do all the proper exams, I exercise and eat right, don’t really drink, no drugs, no smoke, no nothing. Goddamn, I RULE! The best part was that the doctor’s scale made me weigh 4 pounds less than home, which is UNHEARD OF. I will put up with the Pancake-ing of the Breasteses for that, oh yes.

After stopping at Starbucks for breakfast to actually break my fast because I had a blood draw, I took A Child to the dentist and then went to get my nails done. I cannot recall the last time I was in a nail shop where the technicians were not Asian. This is not a novel observation of course – the episode of Seinfeld where Mr. Constanza starts speaking Korean in the nail shop is vurrry funny. But I do wonder why it is. I always imagine that the women doing my nails were once doctors and engineers and lawyers but cannot get work in the US doing that, so they do nails. I stopped wondering what they are talking about to each other, though. I hope it is catty and funny. If I were a lawyer living in a foreign country, couldn’t speak the language, and had to pick out nasty stuff from women’s toes all day to make a living, I would really need to just slam on clients in incomprehensible-to-them English nonstop, pretty much. You can’t blame anyone for that.

The girl I had today was cuticle obsessed – she picked and poked and clipped them with an intensity that was impressive. I zoned out while she oiled and filed and soaked and all, until she pointed at the top of my right hand, and said with a concerned voice, “Oh! OK?” She had noticed that I had burnt my hand. I told her I was fine, and smiled. She put some lotion on my hands, gently, then got a warm white towel, clasped my hands together, wrapped the towel around them, then wrapped her hands around mine. I looked up at her, and she looked at me and said, brokenly, “I hope your hand and inside heal better,” and smiled.


She painted my nails a lovely deep pink, and waved goodbye to me as I left the shop.

HA 6

When you are playing pretend with your five-year-old daughter and she offers you, straight-faced, the "souffle of awesomeness," something is right with the world.



Oh, The Customer Service Girl was on FIRE today at the Safeway. There were lots and lots of calls for the dellllllllllllleeeeeeee, Carrrrrrrrrrrrrrllllllllll, Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeat, Baaaaaakereeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, and a good three calls for Debbeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. I spent most of my shopping time throwing things in my cart and copying her and smiling really big. A young produce dude said HI to me, as he is made to do, and I almost asked him if the employees wanted to throw apples at Customer Service Girl's head. Her voice, is like a nauseating ocean liner -- up and down and up and down and draaaaaaaaaaaaagggggggggggeddddddddd until every passenger -- the shoppers and workers -- must puke over the side. If I worked there, every time she got on the PA system I would leave whatever I was doing and run to stand in front of her, just staring blankly. When she finished, I would leave without further acknowledgment.

So, I am at the checkout with Frazzled Middle-Aged Mom Checkoutress With Pink Pink Cheeks, and I hear Customer Service Girl start up on a blurb about Safeway's Special On Delicious Washington State Cherries. I look up. THERE SHE IS! Right behind the desk, reading from a piece of paper in front of her face. OMG! I don't know exactly what I imagined her to look like, but the reality was good enough. She was a young girl of maybe 25 or so, and the first thing that came to my mind was that she looked like a character from Little House On The Prarie. She was ghostly grey pale with no makeup, with very long wavy dark brown hair, parted down the middle, thin and slightly gaunt. She was wearing some sort of plain dress that reminded me of the Texas polygamist cult women -- shapeless and sexless and designed to please no eye on the planet. I completely forgot about my purchase -- my $317 damn food prices purchase -- and just watched her go, standing alone, reading into her microphone. Up and down and uuuuuupppppp and dowwwwwwwwwwwnnnn, scorching my ears and making my brain twist.

"Ma'am? Safeway card?" The Frazzled Middle-Age Checkoutress with the Now Red Cheeks gave me a slight LOOK. Maybe she asked me more than once, I don't know. I said oh SORREEEE, and paid up. By the time I finished, Customer Service Girl had vanished. Where did she go? I never ever see her behind the counter helping anyone. Does she just sit somewhere in the back and wait, knitting or something, until someone prods her with a stick and tells her to go announce something? Maybe she lives there all the time, and wanders out into the aisles at 4AM, talking to the beeeeeeeeeeeeeans and the fruuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuit and the cereeeeeeeeeeeeeeeal and the porrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrk, like a ghost from a failed Michael Landon spin-off series, Safeway to Heaven.

I would make damn sure to shop at that time if it were so.


Today I was out at The Other Other Coffee Place in the bright blazing sun enjoying an iced cawfee and a treat, when I saw an unusual sight. A couple from another galaxy, exiting from a red sedan with no front license plate, only a plate holder that read "TOYOTA OF HOLLYWOOD." I'll say here that Washington State is a very casual place -- you don't see people dressed up that much, especially during the day. The woman, in her 60s or maybe even 70s, was wearing a black crepe jumpsuit with long lace sleeves, incredibly high silver heels, MASSIVE sunglasses, and expertly-crafted long silver hair with the perfect amount of product on it. She eyed me, all steely, until I smiled at her, and then she softened and smiled back slightly as she strode confidently on her shiny stilts into the coffee shop.

Her husband -- I assume, anyway -- looked to be about ten years older. He, too, was looking all natty in a cobalt blue silk shirt, with silvery vertical threads running through it. He was wearing the tight high-waisted black pants of a flamenco dancer, expensive-looking black loafers, and walked with a cane. His hair was most magnificent -- bright silver like his wife's, but styled into a fabulous pompadour that, if wet, would hang to his shoulders. A silver Rolex, neck chain, and bracelet complimented the shirt. His gradient-lensed sunglasses were also fashionably oversized.

How I wanted to know their story! I bet Toyota Of Hollywood does. Why were they here, and how did they find the little Other Other Coffee Place? Did they always dress so elaborately? Did they once know Dean and Sammy and Frank, or maybe owned a chain of Italian restaurants? Did they once live in a groovy pad somewhere around Mulholland Drive in the 70s, moving to Bel Air in the 80s, leaving when Iranian family/ham-throwing rock star moved in next door? Did they lose most of their money in an ill-advised venture, had to buy a Toyota instead of a Jaguar, had to live in Washington instead of California?

Oh, I will never know. Sigh.


Your client's face, as You, 300-Lb.-Tank-Topped-Stylist-Girl, kept smooshing your copious rolls of stomach fat and giant floppy breasts into her from all angles as you applied color to her hair, was etched with a look encompassing horror, panic, disgust, and a desperate attempt to not scream.


I like ‘em. I do. Not all the time, and not every single one, but I do appreciate babies. Why? Because babies are PUNKS. They could give a flying crap about you, your wants and needs, schedules, or anything else reasonable and logical. Babies are the ultimate in-your-face ego. If they want something, BY GOD, they are gonna let you know about it, and they want stuff all the time. They are so punk, they don’t even realize that they are utterly weak and dependent upon the large people in their vicinity. They believe that the world revolves around them, and magically, IT DOES. Ha ha, babies!

I enjoy seeing ass-whupped new parents, pushing a stroller with that look on their faces, which is some meld of exhaustion-bewildered-beaten-lovesick. You can’t tell anyone before they have kids, how much those punks will just kick your grill right in. Babies are powerful. They hold all the cards. Even in those newborn-sized diapers that fit in the palm of your hand – they’ll go through 12 of those in a day, and pee on you when you go to change them. PUNKS!

I used to be annoyed by crying babies before I had some. WTF, I would think, SHUT UP! Now, I pretend they are odd tropical squawking birds and it seems almost intriguingly exotic. I like how the more parents fuss with them, the louder they get. HA HA! Fuss fuss bounce bounce walk walk, CRY CRY CRY! HA!

It really gets great when babies start walking, then running. I love seeing a short little toddler bolting all of a sudden for some unknown destination, with a mother running after, going. “AIDAN! NO, HONEY! STOP! STOP!” Aidan is faster and wilier than a Kenyan sprinter, and sometimes can get a good 50 feet ahead, with a look of joy and determination on his little baby face. GO, AIDAN! RUN THAT BITCH! HA!

I also like babies because they are not yet screwed by The World. They are plain and simple. They like what they like, they hate what they hate. My middle baby used to sit on the kitchen floor and crinkle paper, laughing like it was the funniest thing ever. I like this. My oldest baby, when he learned how to roll, would roll and roll and roll on the floor until he hit something, like a pinball machine. I like this. My youngest baby, at slightly over two years old, called me into her room to tell me she “had issues.” I like this. Babies are absurd.

You gotta be brave, to deal with punks on a daily basis. Or absurd.


I got my hair done again today, a stunning shade of dark chocolate with impudent streaks of red and purple. My stylist, Allison, is a very nice girl who is in her early 20s and she enjoys doing goofy shit with my hair. She is never fazed when I tell her what I am thinking I would like, even though it can be chemically daunting. She works quickly, doesn't talk my ear off, and is not offended when I would rather read a magazine or a book than talk.

I also listen.

Today's loose lips in clear, loud tones for all to hear:
  • The lady with the long and very very very revoltingly-detailed story about why she needed a hysterectomy, and the surgical complications;
  • The wedding party that discussed the penis and testicle size of the groom, the birth control method of the bride and her three bridesmaids, the merits of beach intercourse, and the groom's drunken grandmother;
  • The salon owner, who snipped and sniped about the wedding party and their cheapness in tipping the assistants;
  • The Midwest transplant women, who said she was going to claim lots of flood damage for her Michigan cabin, even though she had few items there;
  • The salon owner, again, who complained bitterly that a local client of some notoriety blogged about how much she hated the salon owner's small dog being there in the shop that she urged people to go elsewhere;
  • The salon owner's younger sister, bragging about a new boyfriend when the salon owner was in the back.
Listening > talking. I'm gonna keep saying it.


The same summer as the rollerskating incident, I hung out a lot at Margaret's. She was almost two years older than me, had a brother a year younger than me, and a little sister about three years younger than that. Her mother, a busty tall redhead, was a long-divorced woman in her 30s, having had Margaret as a teenager. I found their family completely fascinating, the opposite of my mom-dad-brother-sister live-in-a-house deal. They moved from apartment to apartment, the kids were unsupervised and everyone smoked except for the littlest. I was awed at this total freedom Margaret had. To be able to smoke in front of her mom when I was 13? Stunning. They were all so much more loose than my family, not always in a bad way. They were so comfortable, not uptight, talked about everything. I was accepted as a member of their little tribe.

But, of course, you get a bunch of unsupervised teenagers together in a big apartment complex in the summer, and shit's gonna go down. That's what they do, teens, they do shit that goes down.

So one night we were all gathered in a ratty pack, various boys and girls, looking for something fun, a.k.a stupid, to do. We ended up in the storage area, where there were rows of chicken-wire cages holding peoples' various extra junk. I spotted a case of Budweiser, and pointed, soundlessly. All eyes saw, all eyebrows went up. Margaret's brother went over to the door of the locker, pulled on it -- padlocked. Fortunately, although not for the owner of the Budweisers, there was a more resourceful and criminally-minded soul in the group, who ran back to his apartment to procure a wire cutter. Ooh. Serious. Giggle. Beer. Shit!

A look-out was posted at the door while Junior Burglar worked on the chicken-wire. In a few minutes, he had made a total mess out of one side of the unit, scratching himself bloody in the process. Margaret's little sister was then enlisted to squeeze under the wire that had been cut and lifted. She did, flat on her little elementary belly, and rolled out 24 cans of beer, one by one to our waiting hands, finally pushing the cardboard case through, then herself out. SCORE!

The beer was placed back in the case, with two of the boys holding a side, as we got the hell outta Dodge and went over by some tall grass by the dumpsters to drink our evil-gotten brews. Margaret's sister was offered one for her help, but refused. We drank and laughed and drank, mainly high on the thrill of the steal, beer cans littering the ground.

It was then decided that we would all go swimming in the apartment complex pool in our clothes. It was supposed to be closed but the rule was never enforced. All the lights were off as we jumped in, one by one, howling and pushing. After a few minutes, we saw some men coming towards the pool from a different part of the complex. Shiiiit. Busted, we thought. Everyone got out of the pool and sat, sopping wet trying to dry off in the hot and humid night air. As the men grew closer, the sight of them got more curious. Instead of the expected Mad Adults, here were a bunch of guys, maybe in their 40s, beer guts, in robes and boxers, smoking More cigarettes. Three of them were carrying bottles of wine. Hmmm. HMMMM. We all fell silent.

The main guy, who looked like Porky Pig in a smoking jacket, came over and sat down by us. He started making small talk: "Hey, looks like you guys are up for some fun tonight, huh? Cool." His squinty eyes disappeared further as a slow icky smile went across his fat ruddy face. He started offering cigarettes to us all, which we took. He smiled again, as he lit them for us, one by one. More bottles of wine appeared, shared by the men, and swigs offered to us all. I saw Little Sister take a gulp of red wine.

Two of The Men decide a swim is in order. They both strip naked. WHOA. WHOA. WHOA. They laugh and call us to come in. No one does. But everyone keeps drinking and smoking, and Porky's smile gets wider and slimier. Porky offers us weed to come back to his apartment and "party." My heart is starting to beat faster, TROUBLE ALERT. When Porky strips down right in front of us, that's it. No more. To his protestations, one by one we get up, still wet, stumble out of the pool gate and run like hell up the hill to the other side of the complex.


Gratefully escaped.


The whole little BMX bike and backpack look weren't working for you, Mr. Mid-30's Guy.


Driving go stop go stop go stop
Dirty white Seville in front of me
Dreamcatcher hanging from the rearview
Weaving lurching stopping stopped
Two yellow ribbon decals on the bumper
Half torn off, half faded away

Underneath the license plate
In small lowercase letters
It says “who are you”
And I smile
Well, who are you
Who are you

He’s eating a hot dog
He’s got wild hair
He wants to bring them home safely
And hold on to his wishes
He drives with his knees
And likes to conserve water

I’m drinking a coffee
My hair is blowing in the wind
I don’t believe there’s safety
And I fed-ex my dreams
I drive with one hand
And am made of mostly water

He drives to the right
I drive to the left
The smell of that hot dog
Drifts back through my car
He’s driving down the highway
I'm singing, who who, who who.

HA 5

I had no idea why the grandpa dropping off his little grandson at camp was giving me a dirty look, until I realized I had "Closer" by NIN blaring out of my car windows. HA HA! WHOOPS!


After some thought, I have come to the conclusion that at points in my life, I have been a bit of a nerd. Yes, you read that right, ME COOL COOL ME, yes I think it is possible that there were stretches where I was not altogether totally in with the in crowd. I have my reasons. For one, I am a damn genius. Right here, right now, check it out, OH YES. I don’t know any really truly cool geniuses. They are all nerds underneath, even with the right clothes on and good hair and the perfect amount of aloofness. Secondly, I like reading books about grammar and neurological abnormalities and dogs. And I still can occasionally blush, stammer, and wallflower. I reluctantly accept that I have a chunk of nerd to me. Alright. OK. Huh.

I see discrete differences, however, in the distinctions between a nerd, a dork, and a geek, outlined below for your reading ease:
  • Nerd: the top-end of the Nerd Spectrum Disorder, the nerd, as noted in Paragraph 1, has some number of uncoolnesses to him or her. All nerds have a book problem. They are the ones who coined and use the awful phrase, “So many books, so little time.” Most will wear glasses, or fake out with contacts, but will get a little panicky if, like the guy in that episode of The Twilight Zone (which I think was Burgess Meredith which is a really nerdy name), they lose or break their glasses which prevents them from being able to read books and dense periodicals. Nerds may be very very cool in places, but always have that touch of fail to them. Nerds can be movers and shakers, or immobile and shaky. It’s a good time to be a nerd, because of the high-tech industry and cultural acceptance of nerds like Jimmy Kimmel and Sarah Silverman, Barbara Walters, and Barack Obama.
  • Dork: next step down, the Dork is more hopeless than the Nerd. The Dork is lacking the cover mechanisms of the Nerd; he or she has no taste in clothes, may not even notice what is in fashion or out, probably drives a ’91 Civic, shamelessly carries gaming magazines around in public, and usually looks a bit like a deer in the headlights. The Dork has that sort of stunned, glazed look like someone just beaned him in the head with a tetherball, with the tetherball cord wrapping around his body directly afterwards. The sound for this would be: DORK!whipwhipwhipwhipwhipwhipwhip. Hence the name, “Dork.” Dorks are bright folks, generally, and can be quite funny and wonderful, but the cool factor…nah. Famous Dorks: David Letterman, Ellen Degeneres, Abraham Lincoln.
  • Geek: the lowest level of diagnosis here, the Geek, is unredeemable in total lack of cool. There is just nothing to be done with the Geek, other than to just let him or her go and try to rule the world, or sit in a basement obsessing over model trains or binary code or butterfly specimens or the ramifications of untreated household mold on the human respiratory system. Now, one could argue that the Geek, by not only not caring but having zero awareness for such things as fashion, culture, or common social interaction, is the coolest of the cool, the Ultimate Punk. What makes the Geek the Geek is the likelihood that they will have several of these factors in place: halitosis, greasy self-cut hair, food on chin, donkey bray laugh, afraid of kittens, spittle in corner of mouth, over- or undertalkative, claims to never watch TV or is a writer for TV Guide, picks everything off their food until is it oatmeal-like, would like to vacation in Williamsburg every year, falls when walking. Some well-know Geeks are Bill Gates, Ralph Nader, and Brad Pitt.
Alright. I lied. I am not really a genius, just a Subgenius. Was that cool of me to admit, or am I a dork now?


I swear to god, she didn't take a breath in-between words for like a good 15 minutes. I went to the bathroom and everything, too.


Palms only slightly open, only slightly ready
fists unclenched for only a second
the skin, pink and firm
head line entwined with heart line
life line fading, breaking
palms only slightly open, only slightly ready

For the very best thing to drop into them
caught! clasping by instinct, fingers grasping
held in hands
cautiously peering, wondering, touching, looking
laying right there, palms wide open

How did it get here?
where did it come from?
surely it was meant for someone else?
is it real?
strong, solid, yet floats with a touch
does this exist?
does this happen?
the very best thing?

Palms sweating, heart beating
fingers shaking, hands turning
the very best thing
over and over, peering, wondering, touching, looking


Surely it was meant for someone else
the very best thing
fingers releasing, hands dropping
palms folding, fists clenching
head line entwined with heart line
life line crossed.


I first tried to play guitar when I was three, on a trip to visit my cousins in Indiana. One of them had a nylon-string acoustic and I was so excited by this I spent a literal day trying to play it; didn't want to eat, didn't want to go out and play, no nap either. I sat there on a big fluffy chair and tried and tried and tried. as everyone went about their business. My teeny fingers got teeny blisters, then bled, and I still tried until it hurt too much to play. I finally sadly figured this instrument, as completely cool as it was, was simply too hard to learn.

Then when I was 14, my friends and I were preparing for the junior high talent show. An idiot I knew named Shaun got up with his guitar and passably played and sang some tune which I now do not recall. What I do recall is thinking, "If THAT dumbass can play guitar, then I KNOW I can." I begged my dad for an acoustic guitar, got a Beatles songbook, toughed out the blisters, and before you know it, I could play "Yellow Submarine."

So thank you, Idiot Shaun, for being an inspirational force in my life. You never know.


It's summer. Summer always makes me want to get in a car and just GO. There is really nothing better than having some decent chunk of time, a tank of gas and a map, and no agenda. Just start driving. ROADTRIP!

I am, I should make clear, NOT talking about roadtrips with children. Or at least roadtrips with my particular children. They start out to be good-intentioned adventures and quickly degrade into backseat bickering, fast-food spillage, a desperate hunt for a clean bathroom because one of them has to GO RIGHT NOW, and hauling them around to places that at least one of them absolutely hates. Those sorts of roadtrips are exhausting affairs and must be worked up to every few years.

No, the best kind of roadtrip is taken with just two: two great friends or one harmonious couple. A convertible is the preferred vehicle to have, but not totally necessary. There is just something fabulous about saying "Where do you want to go?" and answering "I HAVE NO IDEA!" and giggling as you hit the interstate. You see the country from a whole different perspective when you are not traveling for any purpose other than to maybe see some new stuff and spend some time together. Your eyes open up to the small details, and the pressures of daily life fade away. You pull over and find somewhere to eat when you are hungry, find a motel to sleep at when you are tired. If some weird little shop looks cool you can check it out, you can even pull over and watch some local Little Leaguers battle it out in some tiny town. You can dip your toes in a clear cool river, watch a movie in some big city you've never been in before, and eat some really fabulous triple-berry pie in a diner run by the Amish. You can just keep riding down the road, listening to music, and talk and talk.

If you have never been on a proper roadtrip, I hope that you do sometime. It's pretty damn cool.


It's true. My enthusiasm for watching parades is at an all-time low. Maybe it is because I no longer care about the candy being thrown from slow-moving convertibles by local government candidates. I skipped ours today, instead catching up on the much-needed sleep that I so frequently whine about.

The one I never missed was the one by our home in Denver. We lived for 7 years or so in a tall 2-story brown brick mock Tudor right around the corner from Observatory Park, near the University of Denver campus. The schedule and events to the parade were always exactly the same: begin at 10AM, with the VA band playing the Star Spangled Banner, the neighborhood association selling Otter Pops and sodas, and the Lining Up Of The Participants. The only participants of this popular parade were children on bikes, skates, scooters, motorized Barbie cars, wagons, babies in strollers, and dogs. Adults were there to watch over the shaky new bikers, push the strollers, and yank the dogs back into line if they got feisty. Everyone decorated their wheels and themselves in patriotic gear, and everyone got a ribbon. The parade route was exactly one city block long, and the children would ride in a long oval around until everyone decided they had had enough in the hot 90+-degree sun.

When we moved there, that first year, I had one new biker and a dog in the parade. A year later, I had a more-confident biker, and a baby in a stroller, and a dog. Five years after that, I had an impudently-overconfident biker, a petulant preschooler in sunglasses pulled in a wagon, a baby in a stroller, a dog, and another dog, who was a friend of my dog. Then we moved out of the neighborhood. July 4th came around again and we all missed the neighborhood parade. I suppose we could've gone anyway as refugee suburban participants, but we didn't.

But I neglected to mention the VERY BEST part of the whole thing. After the parade, and the intake of Otter Pops, everyone waited until they heard IT. A siren. The Denver Fire Pumper Truck, blaring away, lights flashing, would pull up alongside the playground of the park, connect to the water, and threw what seemed like zillions of gallons of ice cold water high high high into the sky, raining down on us all, soaking everything to sopping wet, making everyone scream and run. You have never seen so many happy kids and grown-ups and shaking-fur dogs leaping about in all your life. Someone would get hit with a huge plop of heavy water and screech, grinning like a big fool, while others tried to outrun the sprays, usually failing.

After a good 15 minutes or so of this, the fire truck would reel everything in again and return to the fire house, with a grateful round of applause given by the bedraggled folks. I would round up the kids, walk back to the house, stripping off the wet clothes on the back porch. We'd make a picnic lunch, sit outside to dry off. The dog, thrilled at her water adventure, would sleep the rest of the day.

Happy Independence Day, readers.


Who doesn't like the idea of being able to glide around on wheels? It is a grand thought, to be able to skate around all day long like a graceful ice princess while you do the dishes and such. The closest I have seen to anyone achieving this is the whole Heelies thing. I know that even if they do make them for adults, I would clomp around in them rather than sleekly skim around my kitchen, and the whole effortless thing would just be a total loss. There are reasons that I think this way.

I got my first pair of rollerskates when I was about four, I think, those blue and orange and yellow plastic Fisher-Price ones, which I quickly grew out of. My mother had bought some ancient metal skates at a rummage sale -- the kind you adjusted with a key! -- so those were next. They always fell off my feet with a great clatter as I attempted to master them skating around in circles on the concrete floor of the basement. I was determined to be free of the effort of walking.

Then came the roller disco era. Now, I hated disco, of course I did, but this was what I was handed so I had to deal. I got a pair of light brown Adidas-looking shoe skates with yellow wheels, considered quite hip at the time. My friend Margaret was dating a guy named Art, and his band was going to play the Waukesha roller rink, and I was going to go, hoping of course there would be a cute guy in the band to fall in love with.

The evening of the roller gig, Margaret and I tarted ourselves up at her mom's apartment: big wide bell low-rise jeans, peasanty-type shirts, light blue eye shadow and globs of Great Lash mascara, Love's Musky Jasmine perfume, and assorted cheap jewelry we had shoplifted from the local drugstore. We met Art and the band in the parking lot behind the rink as it was just starting to get dark. Now, Art was quite the '70s looker, he was skinny with long straight blonde hair and looked like Shaun Cassidy with somewhat of an acne issue. I think he was an older man, something like 17. I had my eyes on the drummer with dark curly hair and the Qiana shirt open to mid-bare-chest. I believe some weed and cans of Pabst were about.

Margaret and I helped the band bring in their equipment while kids started to filter into the rink. I felt pretty damn special, although Margaret was the queen because Art was the lead singer. I kept checking out the drummer, and the bassist, a quiet tall blue-eyed boy, seemed to be checking out me. As the band started, we stood over to the side and watched and danced, as girls were to do. The band was not too good, I thought, but no matter -- this was still cool. The kids and teens and a few adults went around and around the rink with the disco ball reflecting bursts of light over everyone.

When the band finished their first set, we all put on our skates -- me in my cool new shoe skates -- and got on the rink. My years of constricted practice in the basement had at least gotten me to the point where I didn't fall down very much, and I could get going pretty damn fast. The problem was, which I didn't realize at first, was that when I pushed to start going faster, I would throw my left leg out hard. The rink was jammed, and as I kept pushing and dodging people, I began to realize I was knocking people over with that kicked-out leg. Oooooopsie. I was altered enough to think this incredibly funny. BAM! Down went a kid. BAM! Down went a teen couple holding hands. BAM! Another little kid. HAHAHAH!

When it was time for the band to start their second set, I left the rink, clomping on the carpet. I felt a heavy hand on my shoulder. I looked up. A very unhappy, very big man with a rink t-shirt was looking down at me. By his side was an angry mom-looking woman and a pouting boy. The man spoke.

"You've been deliberately knocking down children out there!"

I was immediately on the defense. "No! That is not true! I didn't do anything! It's crowded!"

"You are going to have to leave for the night, miss."

"WHAT??? NO! NO! I am with the band, I need to go over there!"


Shit! He was not kidding, and I was feeling like I had better not press the point. I tried to see over the crowds of skaters to try to get Margaret's attention, but no luck. The rink guy stood over me as I took off my skates and put on my wobbly Famolare sandals, and escorted my humilated ass out the front door to the parking lot. SHIT!

I immediately went to the back where we had been, and pounded on the door. It was locked and the band was loud enough that no one was going to hear me. Nothing to do but wait. I sat down on the asphalt, pulled a Newport out of my purse and lit it with my red Bic, and angrily smoked away, the puffs drifting into the orange glow of the parking lot street lamps.

After what seemed to be hours, the back door opened and the band started bringing out their equipment. I snared Art and asked him where Margaret was. As it turned out, while I was clocking people on the rink, he and Margaret were having a blow-out fight by the concession area. He got all red-faced telling me this, and didn't look quite as handsome as I thought he was before. I got the gist that she had run out the front door, so I ran all away around the building again to try to find her before it got much later and I would be stuck walking back to her place alone in the dark on my stupid heels. Lucky for me, she hadn't gone far; she was down a little further in the strip mall where the rink was, leaning against the dry cleaning shop, smoking and crying. She saw me and hugged me and said "Where the hell did you go?" and cried harder. When I told her I got kicked out and why, she started laughing, and laughed so hard her original tears became mixed with hysterical giggle tears. I laughed with her, and we started walking to her place, while she told me some very long story of Art's flirting with a blonde girl.

Margaret promptly got over Art, found a new boyfriend within a week, and I never saw him, the curly-headed drummer, or the tall bassist again. We did go to the rink a few more times, and I tried my best to contain my left leg. I think I saw the Rink Guy scowl at me.

I still have the shoe skates. They are covered in spiderwebs and smell like I don't even know what, but I still have them.


If you have one of those decals with the cartoon boy pissing on either a Ford or Chevrolet logo, I assume that you are a complete and total idiot.


Lack of sleep. This is what I blame Today’s Fail Moment upon, lack of any sort of restful sleep whatsoever. I did usual things about the house this morning, then decided as I got sleepier and sleepier that the pot of coffee I made was ineffectual and I should just go rest for a minute. The next thing I knew, there’s the damn phone ringing, conspiring against Me and Rest. I look at the Caller ID, CRAP! The dentist! Before I even picked up and answered I glanced at the clock. Twenty minutes late for teenager’s appointment. I answer. “Sorry! Sorry! Sorry! We will be there in ten minutes!” They are nice there, and did not chastise me, at least to my knowledge.

I flung myself out of bed, and ran down to the Teen Basement Lair, yelling BLAH BLAH BLAH DENTIST BLAH BLAH HURRY UP BLAH BLAH RIGHT NOW! He yelled back, “WELL, I HAVE TO TAKE A SHOWER!” I made some growling noises and went “BLAH BLAH NO TIME BLAH BLAH GO!” He argued to himself while I ran and threw on some clothes, brushed my teeth, combed my hair, and did the 30 Second Makeup Slam. I scowled at myself in the mirror, prodded Teen to HURRY THE F UP and ran to the car, deftly hooking my purse on my shoulder in one fluid movement out the door.

After a short sprint down the curvy road at an illegal speed, we arrive, sheepish and apologetic, and Teen shuffles back to get his teeth polished and scraped. I grab the latest issue of People and settle in for a few minutes of celebritying. I note that Heather Locklear is much prettier and has a much better body than I do, as she always has, but has more facial wrinkles. I don’t have any crows’ feet yet. Perhaps when the acne clears up I shall obtain them at last.

Teen is done soon enough and I decide that since my Amateur Coffee was a bust, that I should now drive over to get a Professional Coffee at Starbucks. Teen pilfers my wallet yet again for my last few measly dollars as I park the car again, and he walks over to get some incredibly-smelly sandwich from Quizno’s. This particular Quizno’s is owned by an Indian family, and Teen is very amused how their small children are always there, bickering bitterly back and forth in Hindu.

I go into the Atrium Starbucks, order my usual summer Iced Venti Latte, and a Fruit and Cheese Plate. I could be pretty happy, with just coffee and fruit and cheese and good bread, that would be enough for me in this life, I think. Maybe some icy cold water. And a single delicious square of exquisite dark chocolate. Yes. That would be fine.

Still tired and nonfunctional, I go to put the straw in my coffee and it flurps out of the hole in a great wet mess. Goddammit, I think at it, and grab up a pile of tan recycled paper Starbucks napkins to clean up the mess. Out of the corner of my eye, I see an elderly woman, sitting alone in one of the cushy chairs. She is well-dressed in a hot-pink sweater which looks pretty with her bright silver-white hair, styled longish and very nicely. She sips on an iced tea quietly. I finish cleaning up, and head back out into the car to eat my food. Sometimes I don’t feel like being around people very much.

I sit in the car, taking tiny bites of the tiny pieces of cut up cheese and apples, and listen to a pleasantly-morose song by Radiohead. Again, my attention is caught by hair – this time, a young woman’s bright-apricot-colored ponytail that glows in the sunshine. She crosses the parking lot, headed towards Starbucks. She is very pretty, and reminds me of Angie Everhart, the model – very tall and thin, with a confident walk. She has on a tight white tank top and cargo pants the exact shade of Ghiradelli cocoa powder. She opens the heavy glass door and through the window I see the elderly woman jump to her feet. She flings her arms wide open with no hesitation; there is joy on her face. The redhead embraces her warmly, and I now see the connection: the young woman is her granddaughter. There is something about this moment, seen from my car seat, that makes me smile. Perhaps it has been a long time since the older woman has seen her granddaughter, and for her it is like drinking in the most wonderful sight imaginable. I felt happy for them both.

Teen comes shuffling back to the car with his purchase, I finish my little lunch, and I drive back home, to write this.


If you were watching, say, "Dancing With The Stars," and you died in the middle of it, wouldn't you be so damn mad that that was the last thing in the world you ever saw?

Choose your activities wisely. You never know when an errant stroke or incredibly incredibly incredibly aggressive cancer might strike. And if you die while watching "The View," you are going STRAIGHT TO HELL. Keep this in mind.